I read the John Locke piece by John Hood on jobs and unemployment and had to chuckle at the arm-reach for a positive message on jobs. Instead of “simple lies, complex truth,” I have to rephrase “simple spin, complex reality.”
North Carolina’s U-3 (total unemployed, official unemployment rate) unemployment rate was 9.4 percent in December 2012, comparing with the national average rate of 7.8 percent (Bureau of Labor Statistics). The U-3 unemployment rate is the percentage of all individuals above the age of 16 actively looking for work, but unable to find any within the past 4 weeks. So, it does not include those who give up looking. U-3 unemployment does not include individuals in the military, prisons, mental hospitals, and nursing homes. Also not included, other people looking for full-time employment, but taking part-time employment or those who are structurally underemployed.
In N.C., Republicans won majorities in both houses of the North Carolina General Assembly in 2010 with a campaign for jobs. Democrats keep asking: where are the jobs? Now, where are the jobs and how are the jobless faring?
The exact time the Great Recession began is not known but most economists point to December 2007 as the onset of recessionary indicators. John Hood with John Locke Foundation said, “Prior to the GOP takeover of the legislature, the state’s jobless rate rose rapidly – from 8.4 percent in December 2008 to 10.5 percent in December 2010. Under the governance of the Republican legislature, then, the jobless rate has fallen by 1.1 percentage points.”
That’s one way to see it and say it but during 2002 and 2003, N.C. unemployment was in the range of 6 to 6.9 percent; in January 2008, it began a steady climb from 5.1 to 11.3 percent in February 2010. What was the overall US unemployment at the same time? During 2002 to 2003, a varying range from 5 to 6 percent ; January 2007, 5 to 9.8 percent in February 2010. Since governance by Republicans in N.C., U.S. unemployment fell from 9.3 percent in December 2010 to 7.9 percent in January 2013. So, the NC Republicans are driving down national unemployment? No, of course not. Federal unemployment was trending very similarly to N.C. unemployment so “GOP takeover” is irrelevant.
Yes, John, North Carolina’s economic trend can’t be interpreted in isolation. You got that right. Just like the House Republicans can’t tweet out a list of jobs being created each day from statewide newspaper clips and “claim credit” for some projects that have long been in the pipeline, some prior to December 2010, then slap up a chart showing new job numbers from those clips when the jobs have been announced not filled. Those, too, are different measures and most are projected measures of planned jobs. What’s worse is they slap up a hashtag that says “keeping promises.” Can you please explain your article to the staff and some of the members who repeat what the staff says? Unemployment statistics are estimates that leave out people. And, they are real people.
I’m not going to recalculate John’s new jobs added, jobs lost. I will take his word for it because he uses an accepted formula. (Note to House Republicans: use his numbers)
There are indeed many different factors influencing economic trends, worldwide and national, so when Republicans try to tell me that their tort reform, medical malpractice reform, regulatory reform, denial of Medicaid expansion, reduction of unemployment insurance, elimination of EITC, tax reform and fracking are all the job creators we are waiting for, I agree with John. Let’s just wait and see.
Let’s see the N.C. numbers against the national numbers. Let’s see the spinners attempt to take an improving national economy and attribute it to state policies. Until then, I will wait patiently for some tangible legislation that actually sets forth an idea, a plan or even a notion that proactively leads to jobs, provides support for small businesses or encourages entrepreneurship. Apparently N.C. is the great national experiment in unemployment so for the sake of so many people, I may secretly hope there is some reason to the rhymes. Until then simple spin doesn’t work on folks without jobs.
Jeanne Bonds is a political analyst and an NC Spin panelist.